It's been over a month since the installation of Anish Kapoor's latest bean sculpture — and New York City's first Kapoor bean — began at 56 Leonard Street, a condo that looks like a luxurious, shining Jenga set and will soon look like a luxurious, shining Jenga set with an errant bean-shaped piece stuck in the bottom of it. But alas, the bean is still not a fully-shaped bean—as of this past Friday, we're only at half-bean.
So what's bean taking so long (according to us, who have never built a bean)? This was expected—Performance Structures, the fabricators who also worked on Cloud Gate (the name of Kapoor's famous Chicago bean) -- gave a detailed description of the process to the Tribeca Citizen last year, noting some of the intricacies involved with the installation.
[A] significant difference between the Leonard Street sculpture and Cloud Gate is the suspension system. In the case of Cloud Gate, the sculpture is supported by a large base frame bolted to the plaza, which also is comprised of two large ring structures. The shell of the sculpture is suspended by means of a series of spring connectors joining the shell framing to the support rings. The Leonard Street sculpture has a different support mechanism. Instead of a single large support frame, each slice has its individual support frame. The support frames for the bottom slices are each bolted to the plaza, and the slices themselves are suspended by means of cables. When completed, the entire sculpture will be suspended with a system of cables and spring members so that it will be able to move slightly with changes of temperature and wind and snow loads. All of the cables will need to be properly tensioned during the installation process.
They also noted that with Cloud Gate they "needed to precision-form stainless steel plates, attach them to precisely made supporting frame works, very accurately machine these components, and then polish them to a mirror finish," adding that the same would need to be done for the Leonard Street sculpture, which "requires equivalent accuracy and precision."
We will keep returning to the bean until it is full-bean, at which time it will likely be an Instagram magnet drawing a constant stream of crowds to this residential building, sealing its inevitable fate as a has-bean. Izak Senbahar, President of the Alexico Group (the real estate developer behind the building), acknowledged the potential for this last year, saying it will undoubtedly "draw arts and culture lovers to its magical seamless surface."
At the Cloud Gate bean in Chicago, it was estimated around 12.9 million visited during a six month span in 2016. That bean is in a park, however, which is a much better fit for a piece of public art than the sidewalk of a luxury condo.